NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer

NYC Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Fred Sosinsky

When the police respond to a 911 call based upon a complaint of some act of domestic violence, whether the claim is true or not, whether there are any visible signs of injury or not, whether the caller has “changed their mind” and does not wish the police to take further action or not or whether the accused has been perfectly respectful, the police are going to arrest the subject of the call. Having an NYC domestic violence lawyer who has seen these cases many times is the best way to ensure a fair and well-fought case. While, in an earlier time, uniformed officers were permitted discretion in dealing with such situations, that is no longer the case. Far too many instances of repeated abuse and ugly assaults after attempted police interventions made headlines and prompted a sea change in police procedure.  And the changes were not limited to the police. As a general matter, in cases involving allegations of domestic violence, criminal courts in New York will almost always issue orders of protection directing the accused not only to stay away from their spouse, partner, or family member during the pendency of the matter but also to have no contact with them during this time. This is true even if the person who called the police is sitting in the audience at the accused’s arraignment and the court is told that he or she does not wish to press charges. Because of these orders of protection, the amount of personal, emotional, and financial upheaval caused by an arrest on a domestic violence case may well be unequaled in the criminal law.   

If you have been accused of any of the crimes considered within the realm of domestic violence charges in New York, you will need an experienced NYC domestic violence lawyer in your corner, a compassionate attorney who can quickly make sense of the situation and chart the quickest, most effective path forward to return you to your place — literally and otherwise — you were before that fateful call to a 911 operator. For 30 years, NYC domestic violence defense lawyer Fred Sosinsky has worked to defend men and women against charges of domestic assault, menacing harassment, aggravated harassment, stalking, criminal contempt based on violations of orders of protection, strangulation, and similar charges. Most of the time, Fred has been successful in having domestic violence charges dismissed and all records sealed by a judge. Other times, when a stubborn prosecutor has proved unwilling to see past ugly but fabricated allegations, Fred has tried and won domestic violence jury trials throughout the city.  Fred understands what is most important in these cases and will work efficiently to bring the matter to a hasty and favorable close. Only then will be able to have your life back. 

What Are Domestic Violence Charges in New York?

“Domestic violence” is not a specific crime in New York. Rather, there are a category of misdemeanors (punishable by up to one year in jail) and felonies (punishable by more than a year in state prison) that are considered domestic violence offenses when allegedly committed against a certain family household member or other close relation.  Thus, such domestic violence crimes in New York may be non-family offenses when they do not involve a family member or close relation.  These crimes include Assault, Menacing, Harassment, Aggravated Harassment, Stalking, Criminal Contempt based on violations of orders of protection, Strangulation, and similar charges.  Whether felonies or misdemeanors, these are all serious matters requiring immediate attention.

Assault in the Third Degree

Assault in the Third Degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  A person may be charged with this offense when he or she intentionally causes physical injury to another person; when he or she recklessly causes physical injury to another person; or when with criminal negligence, he or she causes physical injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. 

Most often, in domestic violence scenarios, the complainant alleges that they were punched, kicked, or otherwise struck and that they sustained bruising or abrasions, a cut, or a black eye.  Thus, third-degree assault is the most frequently seen assault charge in domestic violence cases.   In those less common circumstances when more significant injuries are alleged or the use of a weapon is implicated, the accused may be charged with more serious degrees of Assault, such as Assault in the Second Degree and Assault in the First Degree. These serious charges can be difficult and often include a number of obstacles throughout the case, a dedicated NYC domestic violence attorney will have the experience and tools needed to help your case.

Menacing in the Third Degree

Menacing in the Third Degree is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail.  A person may be charged with menacing in the third-degree in New York when he or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent physical injury or death.  

Menacing in the Second Degree

Menacing in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  A person may be charged with menacing in the second-degree offense in New York when he or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon or instrument; or when he or she repeatedly follows or engages in repeated conduct to intentionally place or attempt to place another person in reasonable fear of injury or death; or when he or she commits the crime of menacing in the third degree in violation of a protective or other court order.

Typically, a person is arrested and charged with menacing when during the course of an argument or altercation they threaten to hurt their spouse, partner, or family member but do not actually cause such injury.

Harassment in the Second Degree

Harassment in the Second Degree is a violation punishable by up to fifteen days in jail.  A person may be charged with harassment in the second-degree offense in New York when with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do so; or follows a person in or about a public place, or engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose. 

When an argument turns physical but does not result in more than singular pushes or strikes with no resulting injury, a domestic violence harassment charge may be brought and an NYC domestic violence lawyer should be contacted immediately. 

Harassment in the First Degree

Harassment in the First Degree is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to ninety days in jail.  A person may be charged with harassment in the first-degree offense in New York when he or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person by following them in or about a public place or by engaging in a course of conduct or by repeatedly committing acts which place such person in reasonable fear of physical injury.

Aggravated Harassment

Aggravated Harassment is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  A person may be charged with aggravated harassment offense in New York when he or she with the intent to harass another person, communicates or causes a communication anonymously or otherwise by phone, computer, electronic means or otherwise, a threat to cause physical harm to the person or unlawful harm to the property of such other person or a member of the family or household and the accused knows or reasonably should know that the communication will cause such person to reasonably fear such harm; or with intent to harass or threaten another person, he or she makes a telephone call with no purpose of legitimate communication; or with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact thereby causing physical injury to such person or to a family or household member; or he or she commits the crime of harassment in the first degree and has previously been convicted of that crime within the last ten years.

Repeated phone calls, texts, or emails to an intimate partner when such contact is expressly unwanted may result in charges of aggravated harassment being brought. Your Manhattan domestic violence lawyer will be able to help you navigate these obstacles and pursue the best defense given your case circumstances.

Stalking in the Fourth Degree

Stalking in the Fourth Degree is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to ninety days in jail.  A person may be charged with stalking in the fourth degree in New York when he or she intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct: is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such person, where such conduct consists of following, telephoning or initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person’s immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct; or is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person’s place of employment or business, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.

Stalking in the Third Degree

Stalking in the Third Degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail.  A person may be charged with stalking in the third degree in New York when he or she commits the crime of stalking in the fourth degree against three or more persons, in three or more separate transactions, for which the actor has not been previously convicted; or when he or she commits the crime of stalking in the fourth degree against any person, and has previously been convicted of certain specific crimes within the past ten years against the same victim or an immediate family member of the victim;  or with intent to harass, annoy or alarm a specific person, he or she intentionally engages in a course of conduct directed at such person which is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear physical injury or serious physical injury, the commission of a sexual crime against, or the kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment or death of such person or a member of such person’s immediate family; or commits the crime of stalking in the fourth degree and has previously been convicted within the preceding ten years of stalking in the fourth degree. 

Stalking in the Second Degree

Stalking in the Second Degree is a Class E felony punishable by four years in state prison.  A person may be charged with stalking in the second degree in New York when he or she commits the crime of stalking in the third degree and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission of such offense:  displays, or possesses and threatens the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or displays what appears to be a firearm; or commits the crime of stalking in the third degree against any person, and has previously been convicted, within the preceding five years, of a specified predicate crime and the victim of such specified predicate crime is the same victim, or an immediate family member of the victim, of the present offense; or commits the crime of stalking in the fourth degree and has previously been convicted within the preceding ten years of stalking in the fourth degree; or commits the crime of stalking in the fourth degree and has previously been convicted of stalking in the third degree against any person; or being at least twenty-one years of age, repeatedly follows a person under the age of fourteen or engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts over a period of time intentionally placing or attempting to place such person who is under the age of fourteen in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death.

Stalking in the First Degree

Stalking in the First Degree is a class D violent felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison.  A person may be charged stalking in the first degree in New York when he or she commits the crime of stalking in the third degree or stalking in the second degree and, in the course and furtherance thereof, he or she: intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury to the victim of such crime, or commits a class A misdemeanor or a Class E felony sex offense. 

Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation

Criminal obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  A person may be charged with this offense when with intent to impede the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person he or she applies pressure on the throat or neck of such person or blocks the nose or mouth of such person.   

Strangulation in the Second Degree

Strangulation in the Second Degree is a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.  A person may be charged with this offense when he or she commits the crime of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and causes stupor, loss of consciousness for any period of time or any other physical injury or impairment. 

Strangulation in the First Degree

Strangulation in the First Degree is a Class C violent felony punishable by up to fifteen years in state prison.  A person may be charged with strangulation in the first degree in New York when he or she commits the crime of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and causes serious physical injury to such another person.

Aggravated Family Offense

Aggravated Family Offense is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison. A person may be charged with this offense when he or she commits a specific domestic violence misdemeanor after having been previously convicted within the last five years of one or more domestic violence misdemeanor or felony offense. 

Types of Domestic Violence Charges in New York

NYC domestic violence lawyer Fred Sosinsky represents all types of domestic violence charges in New York. However, the specific type of domestic violence charges brought against you will determine the type of defense required. Speaking with a credible and experienced lawyer is the first thing needed after being charged. Some of the most common types of domestic violence charges in New York include:

Self-Defense

Often a person may react in order to protect themselves from a physical attack upon them by another.  This is no less true in the case of a husband defending himself from physicality initiated by his wife or a child seeking to prevent harm to himself from an intoxicated parent who has struck first.  Although the police may make their initial determination of who is the victim and who is the accused, their word is not the last on this subject.

Fabricated Claims

It is not uncommon for those involved in intimate and family relationships to be falsely accused of domestic violence offenses.  Jealousy, suspicion of infidelity, custody and financial disputes are sadly just a few of the motivations for someone to assert fabricated claims of assault, harassment or worse.  Often enough, the defense may uncover past instances when the same complainant has knowingly made false claims about the accused or other family members.  This type of evidence alone may cause charges to be dropped.

Lack of Corroboration

If after a careful review of photographs and medical records, there are serious questions raised about the circumstances under which a complainant sustained injury this may lead to a reduction of charges or dismissal altogether.  So too is this the case when there is a lack of authenticated digital evidence to support a claim of harassment or a violation of an order of protection. 

The sting of a domestic violence conviction will stay with you for the rest of your life.  Don’t try to navigate through such a case alone.  Call experienced NYC Domestic Violence Attorney Fred Sosinsky and get working on your defense.

Violations of Temporary Orders of Protection in New York

As discussed above, during the pendency of a domestic violence prosecution, there will almost always be a temporary order of protection issued in favor of the person(s) who it is alleged was the victim of the criminal act. In the event that the complainant holding that order of protection alleges that the accused violated its terms by, for example, contacting him or her by phone, text, or message, or by showing up at their residence or place of business, or worse yet, by threatening them in some fashion, the accused will be arrested again and this time charged, at the very least, with a new crime with the court itself as the new “complainant.”  Because the accusation is that you deliberately disobeyed the judge’s order regardless of the motivation for the contact or visit, the legal problems you face now are doubly serious.

Nor does it matter under the law whether the complainant welcomed or even encouraged the contact — and therefore the violation of the court’s order.  While it may mitigate the sanction for the offending conduct somewhat, legally it is not a defense that the complainant was not the one to complain.  Once issued, unless modified or extinguished, a court order of protection must be honored and violations can be punished most severely. These orders are serious and can have long term effects for those in question, an NYC domestic violence lawyer will help you navigate the legal waters and begin building your defense.

Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree

Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  A person may be charged with this offense when he or she intentionally disobeys a mandate of the court. 

Criminal Contempt in the First Degree

Criminal Contempt in the First Degree is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.  A person may be charged with this offense when, in violation of a duly served order of protection, or such order of protection which he or she has actual knowledge of because he or she was present in a New York state or sister jurisdiction’s court when it was issued, he or she intentionally places or attempts to place the named complainant in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious injury or death by: displaying a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or what appears to be a firearm or by means of a threat; by repeatedly following such person or engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts over a period of time; by communicating or causing a communication to be initiated with the complainant; or with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm the named complainant, he or she: repeatedly makes telephone calls to the complainant with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues; strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact or attempts or threatens to do so; or by physical menace, he or she intentionally places or attempts to place the complainant in reasonable fear of death, imminent serious physical injury or physical injury; or has previously been convicted of criminal contempt in the second degree; or he or she intentionally or recklessly damaged the property of the complainant in an amount exceeding $250.

Aggravated Criminal Contempt

Aggravated Criminal Contempt is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison.   A person may be charged with this offense when he or she in violation of a duly served order of protection, or such order of protection which he or she has actual knowledge of because he or she was present in a New York state or sister jurisdiction’s court when it was issued, he or she intentionally or recklessly causes physical injury or serious physical injury to the complainant; or commits the crime of criminal contempt in the first degree and has previously been convicted of either aggravated criminal contempt or criminal contempt in the last five years. 

Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence?

There are many possible victims in a domestic violence case in addition to a spouse who has undergone abuse. Generally, a victim can include anyone regardless of age, sex, education level, sexual orientation, religion, or even type of relationship. The common thread in domestic violence charges in New York is that the abuser and victim share some form of relationship, whether they are spouses or roommates. Boyfriends and girlfriends in a dating relationship can be accused of domestic violence. If you’re being charged with a potential domestic violence charge and wondering, how much does a domestic violence lawyer cost? Contact the top NYC domestic violence attorney today for a free case review to discuss your options.

Contact the Top NYC Domestic Violence Lawyer Today

Just because you or a loved one has been accused of a serious domestic violence offense does not mean that the matter will end with conviction and punishment.  There is often much that can be done to fend off these types of prosecutions.  To give yourself the very best chance to do so you will want to call NYC domestic violence lawyer Fred Sosinsky immediately.

SOS? CONTACT SOSINSKY

Case Results
Recent Posts